Quiz: How many of these 1980s albums can you name based on just the cover art?


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The ’80s were a vibrant decade filled with iconic album releases that left an indelible mark on the music industry. Think you have what it takes to recognize the classics based solely on their cover art? From the King of Pop to groundbreaking rock bands, this quiz will transport you back to a time when album covers were as iconic as the tracks they harbored. Put your musical prowess to the test and see if you can name these classic 1980s albums just by glimpsing at their unforgettable cover art

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Album 1 Clues

  • It was the band’s bestselling album 
  • The album’s name was inspired by a visit to a Vancouver strip club

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Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ (1986)

This album was a commercial behemoth, selling over 28 million copies globally. It included rock anthems like “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

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Album 2 Clues

  • It won eight Grammy Awards
  • One of its awards included the Album of the Year award at the 1984 Grammys 

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Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ (1982)

The “Thriller” album is nothing short of legendary. It remains the best-selling album of all time, with over 66 million copies sold worldwide. It houses hit singles like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. The album smashed charts and its cultural impact, innovative music videos, and Michael’s groundbreaking performances on stage made it an epoch-defining record in the music industry.

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Album 3 Clues

  • This album served as the soundtrack for a movie of the same name
  • The album was released in 1984

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Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ (1984)

Prince’s “Purple Rain” stood as a masterpiece in its own right. It was adorned with two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for the Best Original Song Score. With hit singles like “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” the album sold over 25 million copies globally, establishing Prince as a pop icon.

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Album 4 Clues

  • Serving as a symbol of Americana, this album is one of the best-selling albums of all time
  • This album was released in 1984

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Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ (1984)

This album, a vivid portrait of American life, has more than 30 million copies sold. The album gifted us timeless hits like “Dancing in the Dark” and “Born in the U.S.A.,” a song often misunderstood as a patriotic anthem.

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Album 5 Clues

  • This album was the third full-length album for a big-time metal band
  • It also became the band’s first certified-gold album

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Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ (1986)

A pinnacle in the heavy metal genre, this album was critically acclaimed for its complex music and deep lyrics. It was a huge commercial success and beloved by Metallica fans, and features hit tracks like the title track “Master of Puppets” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).”

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Album 6 Clues

  • This album won the Album of the Year award at the 30th Grammy Awards
  • Its working title was “Two Americas”

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U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’ (1987)

This album was a major hit, topping the charts in over 20 countries and selling over 25 million copies. It won U2 its first two Grammy Awards and includes iconic tracks like “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

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Album 7 Clues

  • The recording artist of this album hit the studio without a single song prepared ahead of time
  • It won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1987

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Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ (1986)

A celebrated album that blended various musical styles, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” was notable for its fusion of rock with African music influences, housing hits like “You Can Call Me Al.”

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Album 8 Clues

  • This album was certified-diamond
  • It was the second studio album released by this pop superstar

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Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ (1984)

A commercial triumph, this album solidified Madonna’s place in the pop industry. It includes chart-toppers like “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.” The album sold more than 10 million copies, cementing it in pop culture.

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Album 9 Clues

  • This album was the debut album of a powerhouse, superstar singer
  • It is one of the best-selling solo album debuts of all time

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Whitney Houston’s ‘Whitney Houston’ (1985)

Whitney’s debut album was a phenomenal success, spawning hits like “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know.” It won the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female Grammy award at the 28th Grammy Awards and has over 22 million copies sold.

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Album 10 Clues

  • This album inspired a 2015 film with one of the group’s performers portrayed by his real-life son
  • It went double-platinum

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N.W.A.’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (1988)

This album marked a seminal moment in the hip-hop genre, introducing gangsta rap to the masses. Songs explored drug dealing, street violence, and pushback against police brutality through explicit lyrics. It includes hard-hitting tracks like “Straight Outta Compton” and “Express Yourself.” 

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Album 11 Clues

  • With three country music legends joining forces, this album was truly unique
  • This album was released in 1987, and a follow-up came out in 1999

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Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton’s ‘Trio’ (1987)

This collaborative album was a critical and commercial success, bringing together three legends of country music. It won a Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2020. “Trio” features harmonious tracks like “To Know Him Is To Love Him.”

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Album 12 Clues

  • This album was the second studio album of a famous hip hop group
  • It is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in the history of hip hop

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Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ (1988)

A groundbreaking album in the hip-hop genre, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” was hailed for its social commentary and complex lyricism. It includes powerful tracks like “Bring the Noise” and “Don’t Believe the Hype.”

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Album 13 Clues

  • This album was the hip hop group’s debut
  • It was the second rap album to go platinum

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Beastie Boys’ ‘License to III’ (1986)

A pivotal album in the crossover of rock and hip-hop, it was the first rap LP to top the Billboard chart. It features hits like “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” and “No Sleep till Brooklyn.”

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Album 14 Clues

  • This album is the best selling heavy metal album of all time and is one of the best selling overall albums, too
  • It was released just five months after the band’s lead singer died, as a tribute to him

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AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ (1980)

A hard rock staple, this album is a tribute to the late Bon Scott, the band’s original lead singer. It’s one of the best selling albums globally, with tracks like “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the title track “Back in Black.”

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Album 15 Clues

  • This was the first rap album to achieve triple-platinum status
  • It was also the first rap album to reach number one on “Billboard’s” Top R&B Albums chart

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Run-D.M.C.’s ‘Raising Hell’ (1986)

This album played a pivotal role in bringing hip-hop to mainstream audiences, featuring collaborations with Aerosmith on tracks like “Walk This Way” and the beloved “It’s Tricky.”

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